BVI News

Labour Ministry prompts probe into ‘expat slavery’ reports

Dr Kedrick Pickering

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour has prompted for an investigation to be launched into reports that a number of expatriate workers are being subjected to modern versions of “enslavement”.

Labour Minister Dr Kedrick Pickering made the announcement in the House of Assembly on Tuesday, August 14.

Criminal charges could be laid on local employers found to be involved in the reported inhumane treatment of their expat workers, Dr Pickering said.

“We’ve asked for them to be investigated … We will do whatever we can to ensure that those who are responsible are brought to justice because its something that should never be happening in any country, much less in our beloved British Virgin Islands,” Dr Pickering told the House of Assembly.

The expatriates in question are reportedly workers who local contractors brought into the territory to assist in recovery efforts.

Information coming out of the parliament this week is that the workers are forced to work seven days per week without being properly compensated. They are reportedly housed under poor living conditions and are not being paid the wages that were originally agreed, it is reported.

“There are some troubling complaints — some of them in writing — from individuals who have basically been enslaved. It’s that simple and plain,” said Dr Pickering who condemned the practice.

“It is absolutely wrong. In this day and age, for any man to enslave another man — not only is it abhorrable and abominable, but it’s disgusting to even think about it, and to know that it’s happening in our country is shameful and disgraceful,” he said.

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51 Comments

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  1. duck1951 says:

    If it is proven to be true , the punishment should be swift and meaningful .

    Like 22
  2. Greed says:

    They also need to look into business owners who are not paying off their workers that were let go after the hurricane. This kind of treatment is quite inhumane also. Imagine some of those people have no homes and now no job and still can’t get their little payoff so they can at least have something in their pockets. GREED & WICKEDNESS will be the downfall of many….

    Like 32
    • LOL says:

      Pay them off with what? There are some companies who had coverage for such events and were able to pay and some companies who raised funds, some helped and some didn’t. But there are also some small companies that were left with nothing after Irma so what were they supposed to pay staff?

      Like 6
      Dislike 19
      • @LOL says:

        I 100% agree with you!!!

        But however you present this you will always be seen as the wicked for employing and taking the risk to grow. Yet should you be brought to your knees for any reason (never mind a Cat 5 storm) there’s no one there to save you and on top of you having to pick up not only home but your business as well you are chastised for your wickedness. Ironic that what drives the economy (small business owners) are met with such disdain! Such is the narrow minded victim minded mentality in these islands! If you don’t like it then get off your a$$ and go work for yourself and experience a real challenge for one in your life rather than whine and cry as to when you will get your free handout! Always looking for the laziest way to get a free dollar.

        Like 10
        Dislike 10
        • Haha says:

          LOL and @ LOL sound like they are quilty. Guess that comment really struck a nerve with both of your greedy backsides. You must be bad minded business owners who refuse to pay the people what the LAW says is their right…and then you go and spend the people money at the strip clubs or down the road drinking and looking WIFEEEEE. But don’t worry, karma always comes around

          Like 12
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          • @LOL says:

            Haha – just another ignorant blood sucker mouthing off about something they know nothing about. Keep sucking on that t– and when nothing is there go cry about being the victim. Fool!

            Like 3
            Dislike 6
          • Strupes says:

            The TT in your home country is larger and sweeter, go suck there! Double FOOL! Ignorant jack@@$ who knows nothing about math or the economics of things. Let me break it down for you, zero minus zero equals a big fat ZERO!!

            Like 2
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  3. me says:

    shame on labour dept.Why investigation when u damn well know who they are.Lots of expat rec’d trade licenses in these times &they are doing unjust.Local contractors doing same, but.my point is labour know rhem all so stop playing games.Revoke tjeir licenses not fine because all u guys breeding is hatred racism criminals in my country

    Like 16
    Dislike 2
    • Jus saying says:

      Did you read the article – It is referring to LOCAL contractors who hire expat workers.

      Like 10
      Dislike 1
    • HRMPH says:

      The article says that is it local people who are the slave masters. Why is it that the Philippine community does not want to work for Arabs in the middle east and belongers in the BVI?

  4. Reporter says:

    Believe it or not, these as well as other unbelievable things are happening in this little place some believe God lives’ (even though hurricane destroyed). I am not privy to any paper, (letter or otherwise), where complaints were made.
    What I do know is of only a half-hour lunch time allowed for lunch (top brass are taking the full hour). Workers have to park their vehicles close to half a mile outside the premises and walk the distance into the compound and immediately begin the day’s labour. They are subjected to having their picture taken upon entry and exit. Because of only 1/2 hour allowed for lunch, they must remain on the compound and eat the unheated food they took with them (sandwiches or cooked food). No heating facilities on site.

    Like 3
    Dislike 5
    • Wow. says:

      Walking to work, having a half hour lunch break while eating a sandwich. That is absolutely insane.

      I expect to be driven to work. Do nothing all day, then take at least three hours lunch break with a hot buffet.

      Like 23
      Dislike 4
      • ....... says:

        Don’t forget vacation and sick leave, health insurance, and all the other stuff I want too! 😉

        Like 11
        Dislike 1
        • I want to agree. says:

          But sick leave should be for when you are sick. People just taking sick leave because they “have” 12 sick days is the most ridiculous thing in the world.

          Like 11
          Dislike 1
        • HRMPH says:

          … and I want access to a computer so that I can internet shop, and facetime, all day. Otherwise, there is no chance of me giving up by Govt job!

          Like 11
          Dislike 1
          • Me me says:

            Plus we want to loiter as we want, go and come how we want, and nothing can’t happen because we permanent so we safe.

            Like 1
            Dislike 1
  5. BVIYoungman says:

    Expatriates alone?!!! OUR OWN PEOPLE are being enslaved and treated horribly in the workplace, especially our young persons/ workers

    Employers feeling their position too much, controlling everything in the worst way possible. A Buncha HARD WORK AND NO GOOD PAY, POOR WORK CONDITIONS AND BAD TREATMENT, hot days and NO DRINKING WATERRRRR!! Ridiculous Man

    Years now people been reporting to Labour Dpt and only not we getting a response, FINALLLY! this has to stop!!!

    Like 12
    Dislike 6
    • Truth says:

      Telling you to get the hell off the phone, reminding you that lunch hours are actually AN HOUR, asking you to get off your a$$ and do what you’re being paid for, reminding you that sick days are for when you’re actually SICK, is not poor working conditions or slavery, it’s called life. Of course there are some employers that may go overboard with their treatment but some workers think it’s a nice vacation while they collect a check and not do their fair share, it’s not fair.

      Like 18
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      • Guy says:

        This is an ignorant, insensitive and even cowardice statement … Do you know the courage it takes to even decide to leave your country in hopes of achieving economic benefits? Can you imagine arriving in a foreign country where you know no one but then to be delivered int a living accommodation equalling what a yard dog lives in? Can you imagine then convincing yourself to stay for the greater good of your family but then realising the working conditions and your employer are even worse than the broken-down living accommodation that u r likely sharing with strangers who r also expats? Imagine being torn between the decision of suffering thru the remainder of your contract or paying hundreds to change the date of ur return plane ticket just to go home not only empty-handed but maybe even broken by the experiences u had in a foreign land. Dont be so quick to judge but strive to learn and understand what some people are going thru. It’s not as simple as ‘these expats are just soft and lazy’. Think about your family being subject to this kind of treatment in a foreign place… better yet, think about yourself being in that position… Injustice and cruelty are real things

        Like 25
        Dislike 3
      • Huh? says:

        Please stop, its not every word of yours is the story of all BVIslanders and likewise it is not every story on this article is the story of all expats. You all like too much division. I understand both points of view. I was born here and wish I wasn’t for how I was treated!! And yes, it was totally undeserved and inhumane too!!! I will not share my story, simply because I have shared it with the one who really cares (My Jesus) and I KNOW that he will fix everything with time.

        Like 1
        Dislike 3
      • BVIYoungman says:

        mehson BE REALISTIC!!

        Im talking about literal bad treatment, if they could of wipp you on the back for howthey dislike and how angry some bosses get, tis BLOODY WALE UP BACK people would be walking around with.

        THESE EMPLOYERS/BOSSES OUT OF CONTROL MAN!

        Like 1
        Dislike 1
  6. So.. says:

    ..What about the workers that exploit the employers? This is two-way street, not main street.

    Like 9
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    • :) says:

      Finally someone sees the other side! Agree with you whole heartedly. Those that don’t like their employers get off you booty and go out and compete. Be a model business owner for all of us ignorant business owners to follow!

      Like 6
      Dislike 4
  7. Eagle eye says:

    All of who is singing (god save our queen) is in mentally slavery still.

    Like 6
    Dislike 16
  8. Anonymous says:

    fed up
    who n the bvi works 8hours and more at night without a break not even for five minutes and get minium wages.not a dollar extra for overtime.

    Like 5
    Dislike 1
  9. Political Observer (PO) says:

    The Abolition Act of 1833 emancipated physical slavery in the VI on 01 August 1834; moreover, the VI just finished celebrating 184 years of emancipation. True, physical slavery was abolished but some of the slavery conditioning is still with some of us. Further, some businesses are afflicted with greed and exploitation.

    It is an open secret that local employees prefer to hire expat workers, for they are more motivated to work for less, they are less incline to report exploitation, ie, work without pay and/or lower than agreed to wages, threaten workers with deportation , work extended overtime hours without proper compensation, disregard for off-duty/family time, deduct but not paying social security and NHI contributions, working under unsafe and unhealthy conditions……..etc.

    The Labour Dept must shoulder the responsibility for slavish working environment and conditions. The general rule is don’t expect what you don’t inspect; what gets inspected gets done. The MNRL had/has responsibility for enforcing labour laws. The allegations needs to be investigated but the slavish working conditions need to stop now.

    Like 7
    Dislike 1
  10. Ning says:

    Reading these blogs it is very clear that probe is not enough. There needs to be real conversation between all the stake holders and policy accountability and enforcement needs to be addressed. If the people who we gave the responsibility of looking out for our interest were on the ball they would have had policy for times of disaster already in place and some of these things would be non issues now.

  11. what a ting says:

    Evverything in life is a two way street. Employers need to be humane to their employees,the money for over time, paying ss, NHI etc. If you treat your workers with respect you get better work out of them. Workers, you also need to be honest with the service you give. Honest days work. If each one do his/her part there no need to add more to an already hostile society. Some people are so aggressive to exp. and treat them with contempt.When ever i travel abroad for vacation and return home, i realize more and more how stressful this place is – people who serve the public, needs some serious courtesy training. Your fors port of entry should have hospitable workers. Instead they are so discourteous and rude.Dont blame it on Irma. It is only getting worse.

    Like 11
  12. citizen says:

    How come he is not going to investigate those expats that are over charging people.

    Like 2
    Dislike 12
  13. Island Man says:

    Please inspect that yacht company in the marina in West End, in order to get a clear understanding of the leaving condition and payment of some of the expat employee.

    Like 4
    Dislike 3
  14. Hello says:

    Chuuupes, we ALL in slavery.

  15. island man says:

    tell me about we need help

  16. Bvi islander says:

    They are not just treating them like slavery. It have expats that lives here and for many years the permit holder of these people don’t have a heart. A man work all week and they can’t get paid even for 2 to 3 weeks that’s not good.

  17. Say what says:

    This is the reason why Virgin Islanders are labled as lazy and having a bad attitude. They donot tolerate this inhumane treatment from their employers so the expats get the jobs.

    Like 5
    Dislike 6
    • No man. says:

      VIlanders are called lazy because they don’t get things done regardless of the circumstances. Just because they know the govt got their backs and they will always land a job.

      Like 5
      Dislike 3
  18. Salamat says:

    And the Chinese restaurant works for the “local hero”….

  19. Rubber Duck says:

    The problem is that under the Enslavement Acts aka Labour Laws of the Backward Virgin Islands, they do not have the liberty to move to another employer. So for them it’s slavery or deportation. Take your pick

    • Wonder says:

      I often wonder if their is that bad. Why stay if one has to be knock about so. Cost of living is so high………………and many sacrifice being apart from their families too.

      Like 3
      Dislike 1
    • Brad Boynes says:

      Freedom of speech. I resent your comment. You need to be dealt with.

      Like 1
      Dislike 1
  20. Check says:

    Ayo please check Village Cay paid parking lot. Tings to talk down there.

  21. Start some arrest!! says:

    See this is exactly why employers see locals as lazy. Im from here and worked at a construction company, I had to leave. There were several injustices that plauged me there but the worst would be working 7 day weeks over 60-70 hours per week and only being paid for 40. And then being called lazy because I left. Well now the s**t hitting the fan and even expats talking out against it. Lock up them slave driving employers!!

  22. Hmmm says:

    Headline might be right BUT ALSO

    Probe HARRASMENT and abuse of BVIslanders

    Probe filipinos cutting sugar cane at sugar works museum and other public places

    Probe fraud by filipinos who use bvislanders to come to BVI then hatch plans to abuse employers kindness

    Probe some expats crying foul at employers to manipulate them

  23. Phoenix says:

    This has been going on for decades. Let’s stop pretending none of us knew about it, including Dr. P….what do you think those Haitians were brought here for last year? We can’t let this issue be only a talking point during the runup to elections.
    Now that we are finally discussing it, we must take action and practice continued vigilance as a community.

  24. coco says:

    And we turn a blind eye to some of the people who are deeply racist and come here and treat the people like dogs.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately, this doesn’t only affect the employees brought in for recovery efforts. Persons who have been living and working here for years are not being paid for vacation, public holidays or sick days esp.by some of the big construction companies.

  26. Bebe says:

    Unfortunately, this doesn’t only affect the employees brought in for recovery efforts. Persons who have been living and working here for years are not being paid for vacation, public holidays or sick days esp.by some of the big construction companies.

  27. CW says:

    I see lots of people defending this treatment of other human beings. Let me guess: YOU CLAIM TO HE CHRISTIAN TOO DONT YOU? lie to yourself and others all you want. Your day will come and your treatment of others will turn back upon you a thousand-fold. Shameful.

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